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Villanova and Georgia Tech Highlight Day 1 in the NIT at Barclay’s Center

Brooklyn, NY – The NIT early edition was held last night at the Barclay’s Center for the first time. We had two matchups that both highlighted a winning team against what should be an average team – At least that’s what the records told us.

But after viewing the victors, Georgia Tech and Villanova respectively, as well as Arkansas and Stanford, the respective losers tonight, all four teams have something to offer that if harnessed correctly, can bring any or all four to March competitions.

In the opening contest, Georgia Tech and Arkansas brought three guard offensives.

But it was a big man, Charles Mitchell, who stole the show early, scoring the Yellow Jackets (4-1) first four field goals on the way to a dominating performance. Mitchell finished the afternoon with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Those are beast numbers. Arkansas (2-2) lost Trey Thompson to a knee injury seven minutes into the game. “I don’t know if that has ever happened,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson responded to questions about Mitchell, “But give them credit, they took advantage of it.”

Arkansas however fought well and rode four players who hit double digits in points led by Dusty Hannahs 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting off the pine which to keep the contest close at 41-38 Georgia Tech at the half.



But the game was won by rebounding and three point dominance. Add to that the experience of the Yellow Jackets. They shot 50% from the three as their twin leaders forward Marcus Georges-Hunt and guard Adam Smith scored 38 between them.

But games are won in the trenches and  the battle of the boards was won by Georgia Tech by a lopsided 50-26. But as Arkansas made runs at the Jackets, Ben Lammers, was the safety value. Ben gained twenty pounds and it showed as he grabbed eight boards and scored ten, many which were of the put back variety and even off of an alley-oop.

Georgia Tech stayed unbeaten as they held on at all key junctures to the tune of 83-73 to make the championship game.

In the second game it was the polar opposite as Villanova and Stanford played a physical brand of ball with the Wildcats jumping out to an early 8-2 lead. But the difference between the two was Villanova shooters were more consistent.

The Cats took 34 shots from the three arc and hit only seven, but they all came at the right times.

For instance, Jalen Brunson, who led with 18 points driving and falking away to hit a trey as he hit the floor. Mikal Bridges then hot one from the corner which sparked a run that took Villanova (5-0) up by nine points at their best. Another Brunson three with a minute remaining was a dagger that remained in the Cardinal (2-3) backs as they limped into halftime down 30-23.

The shooting of Cat guards continued to kerp Stanford at a distance as Josh Hart not only scored ten but also ripped nine boards of his own. Ironic because Stanford won the rebounding stats 55-35. But their propensity for losing the call, 23 in total, and their inability to avoid Daniel Ochefu, who patrolled the paint to the tune of three rebounds and five blocked shots. The second half was about holding the advantage they built. Ryan Arcidiacono, whose range was as not as long as his name tonight found alternate ways to score eight points. It was pretty much on cruise control as Villanova advanved to Friday’s final 59-45.

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